AirBnB has been absolutely pivotal in making our trip affordable and practically possible. All but one of our 18 different accommodations so far have been booked through the site.
Not only are hotels (and indeed often hostels) far more expensive but without the kitchen facilities available in our AirBnB properties feeding Amber and ourselves would be impractical / impossible.
AirBnB has also give us the chance to meet local people and experience neighbourhoods and properties that would otherwise have eluded us. That is not to say it’s all been plain sailing. Putting your stay in the hands of a random punter instead of the professional services industry can lead to problems, some more serious than others. In this post we’ll look back on our accommodation for 2016 and pick out the best and worst that AirBnB has offered.
Award: Biggest property
Winner: Luna Azul, Punta Ballena, Uruguay
For our second week in Uruguay we stayed at this vast 3 bedroom, 3 bathroom detached holiday home (only affordable as we stayed here way out of season). It even had its own name. In a predictable reaction to its size and the quietness of the neighbourhood overall we decided it was haunted. At least we didn’t feel quite so alone if we imagined a ghost making use of the third bedroom.
Award: Smallest property
Winner: 1 bed apartment, Porto Alegre, Brazil
In a moment of inept planning, at the start of our trip I booked an entire week in Porto Alegre, a non-descript, grey and slightly rough city in the south of Brazil. It wasn’t really even “off the beaten track” good. Not only that but I also found a largely windowless, tiny 1 bedroom apartment to stay in. With no door separating the bedroom and living area, nap times and evenings were an incredibly quiet affair as Claire and I tiptoed around the property trying not to wake Amber. However, in a strange turn of events we realised good fortune can sometimes come in the most unexpected way. A couple of days in we noticed a leak in the living room, followed by a cockroach in the kitchen cupboard. Our helpful host offered a full refund if we wanted to move elsewhere and we practically snapped his hand off, leaving the next day.
Award: Best hosts
Winner: Cottage Annex, Gramado, Brazil
Despite an insurmountable language barrier we had a wonderful experience with our hosts in Gramado. As there was no kitchen in our annex the kind couple opened up their own kitchen for us to use as and when we needed to. They also very endearingly addressed Amber as “Linda” which I thought was quite odd until realising later in the week that “linda” is Portuguese for cute / pretty. Moreover, they did clothes washing for us without being prompted, tidied up while we were out and took us to a couple of local attractions in their car. At one point they even took Amber off for some photos to keep as memories of our stay with them (for some reason they didn’t seem as fussed about photographing Claire and I).
Award: Noisiest property
Winner: Colonial house, Cordoba, Argentina
Highly competitive category. From barking dogs to traffic and electric generators to parties we have stayed in some very noisy properties. However, nothing could quite come close to the constant sound of drilling, banging and sawing that accompanied us during our stay in Cordoba. Not just one neighbour but both neighbours were undertaking extensive renovation work on their properties while we were there. Similarly to Porto Alegre, after a few days of disruption we had arranged a full refund and an early exit.
Award: Worst Feng Shui
Winner: Wooden cabin, Valparaiso, Chile
The fridge freezer was in the living room. Enough said.
Award: Most drunk host
Winner: 2 bed apartment, Mendoza, Argentina
Not known as the land of sun and wine for nothing. Our host gave us a great introduction to the Mendoza lifestyle turning up with a can of beer and slurring his way through the introductory tour of his property.
Award: Best view
Winner: 1 bed annex, El Calafate, Argentina
In our first taste of southern Patagonia we stayed for 3 days at this wonderful property on the outskirts of El Calafate. The property looked out on to the otherworldly crystal blue waters of Lago Argentino with the mountains and steppe of Patagonia in the background. Truly wild and spectacular and all within view from our living room and garden.
Award: Most understanding host
Winner: 1 bed apartment, Santiago, Chile
Another highly competitive category particularly when you factor in quite how much stuff we’ve broken and lost on our way. But the winner goes to our host in Santiago who had to travel from out of town to help us get into our apartment after we’d left the only key inside. I had been trying to leave the flat to take our dinner and beers up to the roof terrace but dropped one of the beers, got disproportionately angry and stormed out without thinking to pick the key up on my way out.
Award: Best property
Winner: Colonial house, Cordoba, Argentina (again)
It was unbelievably noisy, there were loads of cockoaches, bits of wall kept crumbling off and you had to operate the oven with an extendable pole. But we couldn’t help love the quirkiness of our house in Cordoba as well as its beautiful garden and artistic touches. We had a wonderful few days here despite all the problems and after getting a full refund for our stay it has to go down as the most enjoyable property we’ve stayed at. A shame then that it was subsequently de-listed after we left, no doubt the hosts will wait until the building work is done before giving others the chance to enjoy what was a truly unique property.
Award: Best non-AirBnB accommodation
Winner: Cabana Cerro Torre, El Chalten, Argentina
Given it’s the only property that hasn’t been booked through AirBnB it was an absolute shoe-in for this award. Worth a mention though as this 2 bedroom cabin on the edge of town was the perfect place for our stay in El Chalten. Hiking started from the front door, Amber slept like a dream there (one morning waking up at 8:30… that’s EIGHT THIRTY…) and despite us (me) smashing a table and a fridge shelf the staff were helpful and friendly. For somewhere relatively affordable (particularly compared to other cabins and AirBnB properties in El Chalten) we’d highly recommend these cabins to any visitors to this amazing part of Argentina.